The first summer I lived in Maine my wife and I climbed Old Speck. We climbed out of Grafton Notch and went straight along the stream where the AT turns right and climbs to the Eyebrow Trail. We bushwacked and rock climbed all the way up to the ridge. It was epic. To hike the last 200 yards to the trail, we had to walk on top of the stunted spruce—teetering six feet off the ground. Don’t try this at home.
On our descent, we crossed The Eyebrow. Back then, the trail descended the steep ledge from near the top to where the ladder is today. It was a harrowing descent.
The AMC has built a nice trail up The Eyebrow so you don’t have to climb the ledges any more. Now you hike steeply up the slope with a steel cable handrail to the ledge. You cross the ledge on iron rungs, climb a short ladder and enter the woods. The trail climbs steeply next to the exposed ledge. There are steps, and ladders, and a long section of iron rungs. It’s a really fun climb.
From the top of The Eyebrow, you have a great view of Grafton Notch and the surrounding mountains. You can see all the way past Old Speck and Sunday River Whitecap to Mount Washington.
The loop hike from the east side of Grafton Notch (the AT parking area) is 2.2 miles and climbs 1140 feet.
Sidebar: the WW25 list includes three hikes near Grafton Notch in the Mahoosucs. I could also have included Grafton Loop Trail. The section between ME26 and Sunday River Whitecap has a section climbing Stowe Mountain that has several large ladders. There are also ladders and lots of boardwalks on the north side of Sunday River Whitecap. The first time I hiked it I met a bull moose on one of them—but that’s another story. It’s worth checking out—as is the entire Grafton Loop.